Sheffield Wednesday caretaker boss Lee Bullen refused to blame a lengthy injury list after seeing his depleted Owls side slump to a 2-0 defeat at in-form Brentford.
Goals from Lasse Vibe and Florian Jozefzoon made it maximum points for the Bees over the Christmas period and Saturday’s win took them to within four points of the play-offs.
We came into the Brentford game with confidence but we could not get the same movement we did against Forest, but the best thing is that we have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the previous game and it will be another hard-fought battle with Burton because you know what you get from Nigel Clough’s teams.Lee Bullen
But the Owls were missing an entire team of first-team players, with striker Gary Hooper and Joost van Aken also joining a crowded treatment room at Hillsborough to miss the Griffin Park defeat.
Bullen praised his side’s resilience and work rate, but said they were hit by a “sucker punch” as they chased the game.
He said: “The boys’ effort was outstanding and I think the fans could see that, but that’s the minimum you require and they have given us that today. The best team won the game but at 1-0 down you think we will have a go for it and just as we were adjusting, we got done by a sucker punch.”
He added: “Brentford are so tidy on the ball, so the best bit about half-time was getting in at only one down.
“We were a little bit more controlled in the second half and hoped for a break or shot or header, but it never materialised and you have to give Brentford credit for that.”
Bullen was disappointed his team could not carry the form from the 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest into the game at Griffin Park, but insisted he was now looking forward to today’s visit of Burton Albion to Hillsborough.
He said: “We came into the Brentford game with confidence but we could not get the same movement we did against Forest, but the best thing is that we have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the previous game and it will be another hard-fought battle with Burton because you know what you get from Nigel Clough’s teams.”
Brentford head coach Dean Smith – the former Wednesday centre-half one of several names to be linked with the vacant Owls job – described the win as the most complete performance he has witnessed this season.
“For a few years we have had a way of playing, a style of football and method to our recruitment and that is the foundation,” he said. “I don’t care whether I get the credit because I want my team to get the credit, but you only get credit when you win things and we haven’t won anything yet.
“It was as complete a performance as we have put in all season, with the added bonus of a clean sheet.”
Brentford: Bentley, Yennaris, Mepham, Bjelland, Barbet, Woods, McEachran (Mokotjo 69), Jozefzoon, Sawyers, Canos (Watkins 70), Vibe (Maupay 80). Unused substitutes: Macleod, Judge, Clarke, Daniels.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer (Hunt 68), Loovens, Pudil, Fox, Hutchinson, Butterfield, Wallace (Abdi 46), Reach, Rhodes, Nuhiu (Lucas Joao 46). Unused substitutes: Jones, Marco Matias, Dawson, Frederico Venancio.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).